The head of the British Army has paved the way for a potential U-turn on the decision to pull back troops from Germany owing to the growing threat of Russian aggression.
General Sir Nick Carter highlighted how the Kremlin, in building an increasingly aggressive and expeditionary force, already boasts capabilities the UK would struggle to match.
And he said that Britain would need to prepare to “fight the war we might have to fight” as he said hostilities from Moscow could be initiated sooner than expected.
Under the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review, all British troops in Germany were earmarked for recall back to the UK, with the final units set to leave the county in 2019 and the bases there closed.
But Gen Carter said that when it comes to threats, it is important to recognise that “readiness is about speed of recognition, speed of decision-making and speed of assembly”.
He said the Army was testing the ability to deploy over land by using road and rail, but that it was “also important to stress the need for a forward mounting base”.
“Therefore we are actively examining the retention of our infrastructure in Germany, where we store our vehicles in Ayrshire Barracks in Rheindahlen, and our training facilities in Sennelager, as well as our heavy equipment transporters that are based there, and our stockpiling and ammunition storage,” he revealed.
To a packed room at the Royal United Services Institute in London for his speech yesterday, Gen Carter also showed a Russian military propaganda video that detailed their vast equipment and ammunition.
He said it would have to be accepted that the three-minute video is “information warfare at its best” and that it showed the Kremlin has an “eye watering quantity of capability”.
Gen Carter said he did want to suggest that Russia would go to war in the traditional sense, but that Moscow “could initiate hostilities sooner than we expect”.
“I don’t think it will start with little green men, it will start with something we don’t expect. We should not take what we have seen so far as a template for the future,” he added.
Gen Carter also stressed how the UK needs to “prepare ourselves to fight the war we might have to fight”.
“I think it is an important point, because in being prepared to fight the war we might have to fight, there is a sporting chance that we will prevent it from happening,” he added. “And I think the 100th anniversary of World War One gives us the great chance to actually think about what the war might look like.”
The 58-year-old highlighted how Russia had used the conflict in Syria to “develop an expeditionary capability”.
And he said that as an ally of Bashar al-Assad, Moscow had used the war to “combat-test their long range strike missiles and over 150 new weapons and items of equipment”.
Gen Carter also stressed that Britain would have to “take notice of what is going on around us” or that the ability by the UK to take action would be “massively constrained”.